MuHKA sunday

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Sunday meant some more art-experiencing. After relinquishing some rent money to my landlords, I went to check out Antwerp’s museum of modern art, MuHKA (the website is excellent!).  The building is from 1987, situated between the Schelde and an enormous parking lot.

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The museum cafeteria’s roof terrace was rather empty in the windy chill.

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A view from the MuHKA over the parking lot and some odd edifice, maybe an ancient powerplant or a crematorium? Who knows…

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On the ground floor some recent aquisitions were exhibited. The still above is from a video work by Katleen Vermeir, “The passing of a Perfect Day (Revisited)”,  dedicated to Gordon Matta-Clark, who had made his arcitectural interventions on a building on the site where MuHKA stands now.

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Among the recent aquisitions to the museum’s collections was Ilya Kabakov’s “My grandfather’s cabin”, a wooden shack with this strange little idealized scene inside in the jumbled darkness. The story behind it being how his grandfather would mysteriously retreat to the shack on the Kabakov’s yard, where firewood was stored, and stay there for great lengths of time. No one in the family knew what he was doing in the locked shed, and the mystery wasn’t revealed even when the grandfather died, as the shed proved to be empty save for the expected rubbish. So Ilya Kabakov’s interpretation of his grandfather’s retreat is this piece of slavic romantical escape in the darkness.

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A neat “Corner Piece” by American minimalist Dan Flavin was exhibited in one room. The things hanging from the roof are condoms filled with onions and potatoes; but I didn’t remember to write down the name of the artist behind that. When the vegetables start sprouting shoots, they rupture their containers and drop to the floor – some had fallen already.

The main exhibit was showing collected works of a Belgian artist named Jaques Lizène. The whole floor was a mess of assorted garbage, equipment and artwork.

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True, some of the things were genuinely just bad and banal, but this sex-fixated vallonian does have a marked consistency and perseverance in his production of silly objects. After a while the works of this dadaist jester wore you out, and they started to seem quite amusing. Like some kinds of stupid humour, mass consumption is a key factor to appreciation. The man’s work is well exemplified by sculptures génétiques below. Some of it reach epic levels…

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For instance, can anyone say that a model airplane covered in dead houseflies isn’t pure genius?

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There is some Gilliam-esque esthetic to all of this (the pictures on the left are “genetic” self portraits – that theme is apparently something he returns to). You can’t really see it, but the TV is showing the artist sitting on top of a grand piano playing a casio keyboard synth.

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The concrete mixer above is made entirely of carved wood. In any case, he is a self-appointed artist of the mediocre, so all critisism is pointless. Apparently the mission of his work is a constant questioning of art practices in general and his own artistic process in particular. Bound to irritate anyone who would like to have a clear definition on what art is.

After the exhibit I went to hang out with Lorena and some of the Erasmus people at one Roser’s place. That apartment was huge, and proved that there are indeed well-heated flats in Antwerp, but on the other hand it is a former family apartment used for student accomodation, so the private rooms are rather cramped. I take a personal workdesk etc. over a shared TV and a fireplace any day. On the way there was some more art.

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